wiredmikey writes "The FBI reported this week that Qiang 'Michael' Bi, of Powell, Ohio was sentenced to 30 months in prison for selling more than 35,000 illegally copied computer games over the Internet between 2005 and 2009. According to a statement of facts read during Bi's plea hearing, agents executed a search warrant at Bi's house and found multiple CD duplicators and more than 1,000 printed counterfeit CDs. Some of the CDs were still in the duplicator. During their investigation, agents learned that Bi would buy a single copy of a game, illegally duplicate it and sell the copies on eBay.com and Amazon.com. He also set up a website for customers to download the games they bought. Bi accepted payment through eBay and PayPal accounts in his name and in others' names."
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l_bratch writes "Since December 22nd DICE have been running a competition between each target platform of their latest Battlefield expansion — Bad Company 2: Vietnam. Players were required to complete a large number of 'team actions' in game, in order to unlock a hidden, remastered version of the Operation Hastings map from the original Battlefield: Vietnam. PC gamers have completed the task, whereas gamers on both console platforms are only about halfway there."
Torrentfreak reports that after calculating download frequency for pirated copies of popular video games, Call of Duty: Black Ops has won the dubious honor of being the most pirated game of 2010. The PC version of the game was torrented roughly 4,270,000 times, and the Xbox 360 version was downloaded an additional 930,000 times. (The most pirated Wii game was Super Mario Galaxy 2, and Dante's Inferno somehow managed to accrue the most downloads of Xbox 360 games.) Fortunately for Activision, the game has still made over $1 billion in sales, and its 20,000,000+ players have racked up over 600,000,000 man-hours of play time since the game's launch in early November.
BigSes writes "A 23-year old man has been hospitalized after police in South Carolina say he was hit by an SUV while playing a real-life version of the video game Frogger. Authorities said the 23-year-old man was taken to a hospital in Anderson after he was struck Monday evening. Before he was hit, police say the man had been discussing the game with his friends. Chief Jimmy Dixon says the man yelled 'go' and darted into oncoming traffic in the four-lane highway. Has it come time to ban some of the classics before someone else goes out and breaks a few bricks with their heads after eating a large mushroom?"
Hugh Pickens writes "Fox News reports that Nintendo has posted a cautionary note on its Japanese website that 'vision of children under the age of six has been said [to be in the] developmental stage,' adding that 3D content 'delivers 3D images with different left and right images, [which] has a potential impact on the growth of children's eyes.' The notice went to say that Nintendo recommends that all viewers take regular breaks while watching 3D video or playing stereoscopic 3D games (google translation). Dr. Michael Ehrenhaus, an ophthalmologist with New York Cornea Consultants, thinks Nintendo and Sony may be getting ahead of themselves with these disclaimers. 'It's hard to say that it'll ruin development,' says Ehrenhaus."
ReportedlyWorking writes "It appears that Sony's PS3 has been fatally compromised. At the Chaos Communication Congress in Berlin, a team named 'fail0verflow' revealed that they had calculated the Private Keys, which would let them or anyone else generate signed software for the PS3. Additionally, they also claim to have a method of jailbreaking the PS3 without the use of a Dongle, which is the current method. If all these statements are true, this opens the door to custom firmware, and homebrew software. Assuming that Sony doesn't take radical action and invalidate their private keys, this could mean that Jailbreaking is viable on all PS3, regardless of their firmware! From the article: 'Approximately a half hour in, the team revealed their new PS3 secrets, the moment we all were waiting for. One of the major highlights here was, dongle-less jailbreaking by overflowing the bootup NOR flash, giving complete control over the system. The other major feat, was calculating the public private keys (due to botched security), giving users the ability to sign their own SELFs. Following this, the team declared Sony's security to be EPIC FAIL!'"
An article at Gamasutra takes an in-depth look at how Zynga's new browser-based social game CityVille managed to accumulate tens of millions of players in the relatively short time since its launch early this month. Quoting: "The Facebook interface induces a high degree of user blindness. It does not do a great job of exposing new games and applications, and lacks a directory or a 'Featured in the App Store' style of editorial (as Apple does for the iPhone), which means that for most developers there are huge problems in getting their games in front of users' eyeballs. With all of the free advertising channels on the platform now constrained or dead, this has meant that the Facebook economy has been acquiring an increasingly Darwinian shape. Where it used to be an egalitarian environment in which any developer could strike it big, over the last year it has become top-heavy with larger developers accruing exponential success, and cutting off oxygen to smaller companies by default."
An anonymous reader writes "Researchers at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies have developed software that enables control of PC video games using the Microsoft Kinect sensor. Their toolkit, known as the Flexible Action and Articulated Skeleton Toolkit (FAAST), emulates custom-configured keyboard controls triggered by body posture and specific gestures. This video shows a user playing the online game World of Warcraft using the Kinect. Potential applications of this technology include video games for motor rehabilitation after stroke and reducing childhood obesity through healthy gaming."
Pickens writes "Hou Yifan, a 16-year-old chess player from China, became the youngest world chess champion on Friday, in the final of the Women's World Chess Championship held in Antakya, Turkey, toppling a record held since 1978. Currently, the top-ranked woman is Judit Polgar of Hungary, who is thought to be the best female player in history but Polgar, once ranked No. 8 in the world among all players, men and women combined, does not compete in women's tournaments and did not play. No one really knows why the best female players are typically not as good at chess as the best men. One theory, common among some top male players, is that men are usually more aggressive by nature than women, and are therefore better suited to a game that simulates warfare. Another, cited in at least one university study, is that the talent pool among women has not been big enough to produce many great players."
revealingheart writes "As 2010 comes to a close, it could be remembered as the year pay-what-you-want pricing reached the mainstream. Along with the two Humble Indie Bundles, YAWMA offer a game and music bundle, and Rock, Paper and Shotgun reports on the curiously named Bundle of Wrong, made to help fund a developer who contracted pneumonia. More examples include when Reddit briefly let their users donate an amount of their choosing for upgraded accounts when they were having financial difficulties; the Indie Music Cancer Drive launched Songs for the Cure for cancer research; and Mavaru launched an online store where users can buy albums for any amount. Can pay-what-you-want become a sustainable mainstream business model? Or is it destined to be a continued experiment for smaller groups?"
An anonymous reader writes "The Ninth Circuit reversed a $6.5 million judgment for Blizzard against MDY Industries, saying that making bots is not copyright infringement. The bad news for MDY? The court found that they did violate DMCA Section 1201(a)(2) (PDF), which prohibits trafficking in products that circumvent technologies designed to control access to copyright-protected works."
As the second Humble Indie Bundle flourishes, having taken in over $1.5 million in pay-what-you-want sales, the Opposable Thumbs blog has taken a look at indie game pricing in general, trying to determine how low price points and frequent sales affect their popularity in an ocean of $60 blockbusters. Quoting: "... in the short term these sales are a good thing. They bring in more sales, more revenue, and expand the reach of games that frequently have very little marketing support behind them, if any. For those games, getting on the front page of Steam is a huge boost, putting it in front of a huge audience of gamers. But what are the long-term effects? If most players are buying these games at a severely reduced price, how does that influence the perception of indie games at large? It's not an easy question to answer, especially considering how relatively new these sales are, making it difficult to judge their long-term effects. But it's clear they're somewhat of a double-edged sword. Exposure is good, but price erosion isn't. 'When it comes to perception, a deep discount gets people playing the game that [they] wouldn't play otherwise, and I think that has both positive and negative effects,' [2D Boy co-founder Ron Carmel] told Ars. 'The negative is that if I'm willing to pay $5 but not $20, I probably don't want to play that game very much, so maybe I'm not as excited about it after I play it and maybe I drive down the average appreciation of the game.'"
Sony Online Entertainment has announced that their long-awaited superhero MMO DC Universe Online will be launching on January 11th in the US and January 14th in the UK. The game will be available for Windows and the PlayStation 3. Massively recently wrote up their impressions from the beta test, and a preview at The Escapist said this of the combat: "Based on my early experiences, the action of DCUO is a lot of fun. You can lock onto targets, but there is no auto attack button. To take down enemies, you must click a button to punch or fire a ranged attack. The brawler-style action feels like a wham-bang comic book. Scenery is not just difficult terrain; picking up barrels and tossing them at your foes is sometimes necessary for tough encounters. Leveling up your skills unlocks combos, with varying effects that can interrupt enemies from pulling off that devastating fire breath or stunning punch. ... The only downside with such frenetic combat is that the keyboard and mouse interface isn't really conducive to all this action. It's hard to follow up nine short left clicks with a long right button click. While I was visiting SOE's offices, I was able to play with a PS3 controller, and this control scheme was preferable."
FlorianMueller writes "The US International Trade Commission, which is increasingly popular as a patent enforcement agency, voted to investigate a complaint filed by Motorola against Microsoft last month. Motorola claims that the Xbox infringes five of its patents. In October, Microsoft complained against Motorola, alleging patent infringement by its Android-based smartphones. Apple, Nokia and HTC are also involved with ITC investigations as complainants and respondents. A new one-page overview document shows the ongoing ITC investigations related to smartphones and the products that the complainants would like to have banned from entry into the US market. The good news is that any import bans won't be ordered until long after Christmas. The ITC is faster than courts, but not that fast."
Eric writes "After over a year of development, Minecraft has hit Beta status today. Minecraft was developed for about a week before its public release on May 17, 2009. With the new milestone, the price of the game has increased to €14.95; when Minecraft moves beyond beta status, it will sell for €20.00. The beta is more focused on polish and content. The aim is to add proper modding support via a stable API, some kind of non-intrusive narrative to help drive the game experience early on, and a late-game goal. Updates will be less frequent, so as to make sure stability is maintained thanks to more extended testing. Despite this, there have already been two beta releases: client and server Beta 1.0 followed quickly by client 1.0_01."